Image of child's hand playing with foam puzzle pieces.Should I become a licensed or certified child care provider?

There are many benefits to obtaining a family child care license or family child care certification

Financial Benefits

  • Child care consumers often look for a caregiver who is regulated. Choosing regulated child care gives parents confidence and peace of mind, knowing a regulatory agency has done background checks and monitors the home for health/safety standards.
  • Regulated providers benefit from 4C Milwaukee Child Care Resource and Referral services and can be listed on the DCF Child Care Finder website.
  • Obtaining a license or certification enables providers to enroll families participating in Wisconsin Shares and who receive child care assistance.
  • Regulated providers may participate in the Child and Adult Care Food Program and receive partial reimbursement for the cost of serving healthy meals and snacks.
  • Regulated child care providers may be able to obtain liability insurance to protect their business and benefit from many tax deductions.
  • Regulated child care providers who also participate in YoungStar may be eligible to receive micro-grants to support their quality improvement plans.

Personal & Professional Benefits

  • Regulated child care providers demonstrate a commitment to the child care profession and provide a valuable service to families and their community.
  • Regulated child care providers can participate in the YoungStar program and receive support, tools and training to help providers deliver high quality care.


Type of Family Child Care Maximum/Allowable Number of Children Under Age 7
(who are not related to the provider)
Maximum Group Size
Unregulated (legal) 3 -
Certified 3 6
Licensed 8
(May be fewer depending
on ages of children.)


What Are the Benefits of Being Regulated?

  • You are able to care for Wisconsin Shares subsidized children
  • You may participate in the Child and Adult Care Food Program
  • You may get parent referrals from the Child Care Resource and Referral Agency (4C)
  • You can participate in Youngstar, Wisconsin’s Quality Rating Improvement System, used to improve and communicate the level of quality in early childhood programs. Youngstar rates family child care homes from 1 star (the lowest) to 5 stars (the highest).


State Law Requires That Child Care Providers Must be Regulated If:

  • You are caring for more than three (3) non-related children under 7 years of age
  • You plan on receiving Wisconsin Shares


Wisconsin Child Care Regulation Information

For additional information on licensing and certification, please visit our Child Care Regulation page.